WILLCOX — When Doajo and Roxanne Hicks purchased the Coronado Vineyard near Willcox, they didn’t think COVID-19 would have any impact on their plans.
They were wrong.
Less than a week after the couple closed on the vineyard, the pandemic shutdowns went into full swing.
Not only did the St. George, Utah couple have to shutter the tasting room, but their plans of purchasing a home in Willcox had to be placed on the back burner.
Roxanne, a physiology professor for Dixie State University in Utah, and Doajo, an attorney, obviously couldn’t go house hunting.
So, in Doajo’s words, they took the lemons of the pandemic and made lemonade.
“Since things slowed down it gave us the opportunity to learn the business, and get in there and see where we can improve things,” said Doajo.
“We were able to spend a lot of time out in the vineyard. And even now every morning we’re out there working on the vineyard and getting to see how things work, so it was good in a way that it allowed us the time to do that,” said Roxanne.
During the months of social distancing, the tasting room, vineyard, and restaurant at Coronado Vineyards became the couple’s primary focus.
They updated their website, purchased new furniture for the tasting room and learned how to manage the new business.
Instead of learning how to manage the employees while the tasting room was open, the Hicks gained insight while shut down. Roxanne said their wine business was able to maintain bottle sales throughout the restrictions.
The Coronado tasting room and restaurant are now back open and running, albeit with social distancing guidelines in place.
“We’re paying most of the previous employees and making sure we can bring them in. Most of them were part-time employees so we’re trying to keep them on,” Doajo said.
Doajo said he was grateful for the other Willcox winery owners, saying their support was appreciated in the time of COVID-19 hardships.
“Everyone tries to help you out to make sure it builds the Arizona wine business,” said Doajo. “It’s been a good experience for us so far.”
The Hicks have been busy rebranding the Coronado bottle labels and expanding their vineyard. They hope to introduce new menu items and launch two new wines within the next month.